[Marxism] North Korean Disaster Relief?

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 26 15:34:44 MDT 2004


This 'offer' to provide relief is reminiscent of the aid offered Iran for 
relief post an earthquake there several months back.  At the same time, the 
US was threatening an almost immediate war against Iran and Syria back then, 
too.  But Norht Korea had entered into the picture, and the US government 
held back from following through with its threats.

But now, in the case of North Korea, the US is threatening a preemptive 
strike against a nation whcih appears to have at least one nuclear bomb to 
defend itself with.  That makes it all the more likely that the US attack 
will use some sort of nuclear weaponry to initiate such a war.

All the signs exist that Bush is seriously contemplating an 'October 
surprise', but not necessarily as late as October.  Cheney's visit to China 
appears to have been the signal to the Chinese, that it should just let 
North Korea 'fall' when it is attacked.  The urge to take out a 'rogue 
nation' with new nukes has been around US government and Pentagon circles 
for some years now.  North Korea and the Middle East have combat going that 
has combined to present just the ideal circumstance, for what is considered 
in those circles as a 'strike' with relatively low danger to the US itself, 
yet probable high gains politically for US imperialism world wide.  The idea 
is, nobody is going to mess with a US that is crazy enough to do what is 
being planned against North Korea right now.

While the public waits for an all too obvious WOMD 'discovery' in Iraq, it 
appears that the Pentagon is preparing to do just that, but on the Korean 
Peninsula.  The plan appears to be to call Kim Jong-il's nuclear bluff that 
they have a nuclear bomb and now the US cannot do to North Korea as it did 
with Iraq, and to raise him one, so to speak. The total absence of 
commentary about Cheney's negotiating and the US war plan in the capitalist 
press, is kind of like the quiet that comes in the eye of a hurricane.  The 
second half of Bush's military 'Hurricane' may probably be much worse for 
the world than the first half of it has been.

There is a significant section of the US ruling class that is solidly behind 
the idea of using Bush in power, to kick ahead with the military expansion 
of US global terrorism.  The 'lessons of Vietnam' to them are, that the US 
was too soft with the military. They want to replay the battle their way.

Tony Abdo

N. Korea Denies Aid Trucks From South
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press Writer

DANDONG, China - North Korea  balked Monday at opening its heavily armed 
border to relief trucks from rival South Korea (news - web sites), even as 
international aid groups sought more help for thousands injured or made 
homeless by a massive train explosion.

Slideshow: DeadlyTrain Explosion in N. Korea
As a cold rain fell on the devastated community of Ryongchon, relief workers 
warned that more food, blankets and medicine were needed immediately in the 
impoverished nation.

Video released by the United Nation showed patients squeezed two to a bed in 
shabby hospitals, with compresses over their eyes and facial injuries from 
being struck by a wave of glass, rubble and heat in Thursday's blast.

Aid workers said North Korea was short of even basic equipment like sutures 
and intravenous drips, and that donated goods were being used up as quickly 
as they could be supplied.

The Red Cross distributed a three-month supply of antibiotics, anesthetics 
and bandages to North Korean hospitals over the weekend, but "according to 
the hospitals, they have already used these medical supplies and have 
requested more," said Niels Juel, an official for the agency who is based in 
Beijing.

The casuality toll stood at 161 dead and more than 1,300 injured by the 
explosion of oil and chemicals, aid agencies said.

"The overall health system ... is very strained," said Brendan McDonald, a 
U.N. aid coordinator in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Electrical 
power and water supplies are "all inadequate," he said.

The Red Cross launched an emergency appeal Monday for $1.25 million in aid 
for North Korea. "Some families have lost all their belongings," Juel said. 
"Also, the water and sanitation system in that area would need to be 
restored."

Days after the catastrophe, details were still only trickling out from the 
secretive, communist North. Aid workers who first arrived in Ryongchon on 
Saturday described seeing huge craters, twisted railroad tracks and scorched 
buildings.

Nearly half of the dead were children in a school torn apart by the blast, 
and the disaster left thousands of residents homeless, the aid workers said.

One worker who toured a hospital in the nearby city of Sinuiju said that 
injured children lay on filing cabinets because there weren't enough beds. 
The hospital was "short of just about everything," said Tony Banbury, Asia 
regional director for the U.N. World Food Program, after his visit Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday the United States will give 
financial assistance to North Korea in response to the disaster but gave no 
further details.

The Bush administration is working with the United Nations and "we will be 
making an offer," Powell said.  Japan, Russia, Australia are among the 
countries that have already offered to send supplies. Neighboring China 
dispatched truckloads of tents, blankets and food across its border over the 
weekend.

But North Korea's border with South Korea remained sealed.
At a cargo depot near Seoul, Red Cross trucks loaded with medical supplies, 
bottled water, clothes and packages of instant noodles were awaiting the 
green light. But North Korea was hesitant Monday about allowing them across 
the Demilitarized Zone that has separated the two Koreas for over half a 
century.

The Pyongyang government also didn't respond to a South Korean offer to 
unload ships carrying relief goods at ports near Ryongchon.

Officials from North and South Korea planned to meet in the northern city of 
Kaesong on Tuesday to discuss relief operations.

"It is most important to have the relief goods arrive in the site of the 
explosion as quickly as possible," said South Korean Prime Minister Goh Kun. 
"By land or by sea, a quick means of transportation should be found."

The South Korean public has also mobilized, with civic groups and the news 
media launching donation campaigns.

The Koreas were divided at the end of World War II. Their border remains 
sealed after the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended without a peace treaty.

North Korea's Communist government relaxed its normally intense secrecy as 
it pleaded for international help. It has blamed the disaster on human 
error, saying the cargo of oil and chemicals ignited when workers knocked 
the train cars against power lines.

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